UPDATE: YouTube complies, removes Viacom content

Bad news for the YouTube set: Viacom today demanded that the popular video site remove all Viacom content from the site and Google this afternoon has complied.

Bad news for the YouTube set: Viacom today demanded that the popular video site remove all Viacom content from the site and Google, which bought YouTube last year, this afternoon complied.

Viacom includes BET, Famous Music, MTV Networks – MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, CMT: Country Music Television, Spike TV, TV Land Paramount Pictures and Paramount Home Entertainment – a cornucopia of YouTube traffic-generating content. The company says that content represents about 100,000 video clips – lifeblood to YouTube.

Viacom said its pirated programs on YouTube generate about 1.2 billion video streams, based on a study from an outside consultant, according to a Reuters report.

According to MarketWatch: Viacom's action begs the question about whether other major U.S. entertainment firms will follow its lead. While many have asked YouTube to remove small numbers of videos at a time, Viacom appears to be the first major U.S. entertainment provider to ask for all its clips to be removed. Yet Google says it's already reached licensing deals with some other entertainment providers. At least one major U.S. entertainment provider, News Corp., said Friday it has no intention of asking for such a comprehensive take-down.

According to Viacom, Google has compounded the problem lately by allowing its Google Video Web site to include YouTube videos.

"After months of ongoing discussions with YouTube and Google, it has become clear that YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement that would make Viacom content available to YouTube users," Viacom said in its statement.

Viacom’s action is one of Google’s worst fears realized. YouTube agreed to be acquired by Google last year in a $1.65 billion stock transaction. At the time analysts speculated on YouTube’s ability to avoid lawsuits over the vast amount of copyright material that exists on the site, and some predicted the company would soon be hit with lawsuits. In recent months Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Entertainment and Warner Music Group each signed deals with the companies to display their content, which could help shield the video sites from some lawsuits.

Just last week, YouTube received a subpoena from News Corp.’s Fox television unit seeking information regarding videos of television programs that appear on YouTube.

The site has in the past cooperated with some content providers demanding content be removed. For example, it recently deleted close to 30,000 files after complaints from an organization representing Japanese copyright holders.

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